UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has told an envoy from Burma that the military government must quickly release democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Mr. Annan met Wednesday with Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win at United Nations headquarters in New York. In a statement issued later, Mr. Annan said he expressed his "grave concern" about the welfare of the Nobel peace laureate.
The Secretary-General said that during the meeting, which included his own Special Envoy for Burma, Razali Ismail, he emphasized that Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy party should be released without further delay.
Mr. Annan said it is the responsibility of Burma's government to ensure the safety of the democracy leader and her colleagues -- whether in or out of detention.
Speaking later to reporters, Mr. Annan said it is premature to discuss imposing sanctions on Burma's military government since the UN Security Council has not yet discussed Aung San Suu Kyi's arrest.
Meanwhile, the US Congress completed action on a bill that would punish Burma's military government for its latest crackdown on the country's democracy movement.
By a vote of 94-to-one, the Senate approved a version of the bill that the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed one day earlier.
The White House said late Wednesday that President Bush looks forward to signing the bill into law.
Information for this report is provided by Reuters.